Sunday, November 27, 2011

Knitting success!

Last night I finally finished my first major knitting project - the scarf. Six and a half feet long, it's going to be very warm. :)

Now I'm ready to choose a new project!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Story of Esther

That's her in the foreground, making a dash for the outdoors. She was one of the older generation of hens but as the only Araucana (blue eggs) and having a lot of character, I attempted to relocate her to my coop last month. She was having none of it! Even after dark, she took off out of the coop and over the fence and never looked back.

That was the last time she was seen and I thought she had probably been eaten. Dogs, foxes, raccoons... it's a dangerous place for a hen without shelter. Then yesterday my son came in from taking his dog out and said one of my hens was out of the pen and in the garden. I went out to find out who was a.w.o.l. but all 14 were right where they belonged. Then I saw her, long lost Esther. Clearly torn between rejoining the flock and living wild, she comes back but dashes for the horizon if anyone gets too close. When I see her I hear a shrill Scottish voice shouting in my mind "You can never take my freedom!" Thus she is now known as Esther Braveheart.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recycled Passive Solar

How's that for a catchy title? Tanya asked me to explain my plan to add some passive heating to the chicken coop so here it is:

I took some empty pop bottles, filled them with water and spray painted them black. After that I hauled the bottles out to the coop and put them on a shelf across from the south-facing window. Hopefully, the water will absorb what heat the sun puts out during the day and release it back into the coop at night. I'm not expecting much, but every little bit helps.

Speaking of cold and weather; yesterday we had our first snow of the season (I know! Incredible to be this late!). Not a lot, just enough to give everything a coating of white. I was feeling a bit scornful of my hens this morning when none of them wanted to venture out even though the wind was calm and the sun shining brightly. Then I remembered the cat started to go outside and did the fastest u-turn possible in the doorway... and he was wearing a fur coat. :)

One thing that makes me happy: I can see the garage solar panels from my kitchen window and although fully covered in snow this morning, the solar guy spoke true and it quickly melted off.

The time has come again to venture out, close the coop up tight and bring in the dog.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book nook

No, not an electronic device, just the paper and ink books I have stacked next to my reading chair.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winding down the vacation

Filling in a couple missing days:

Friday I dismantled the guinea pig cage and cleaned. Also, the last of the farm chickens moved out. Happily, Duke went on to another farm where he will attempt to usurp the reigning rooster.

Saturday was supposed to be this gorgeous, sunny day of 60 degrees. Ha! It was cloudy and windy and utterly disappointing. Instead of the outdoors things I planned on, I made a big pot of super soup and started rereading Eragon.

Today was the long awaited nice day! I put plastic over the chicken coop window and built a shelf on the opposite wall to try out a passive solar heating method. I'll paint 2 liter bottles of water black and line them on the shelf to absorb sunlight and hopefully radiate it out at night. The shiny insulation behind the bottles should help with that.

Back to work tomorrow. :(

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Day 6

This was a good day!

I went to Sam's Club with my parents to stock up. It will be crazy busy from now through the holidays so they won't go back until next year. My shelves are full. :)

Arriving home found the solar guy and electrician working hard on the system. They tracked down the solution with the manufacturer and after rewiring the connections and one pesky fuse... it works! Hooray! The electrician is all fired up now and can't wait to tackle another installation. The solar guy said he even had friends who wanted to try this but all refused to be the first. Luckily, I'm mad enough to be a guinea pig.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Days 4 & 5

Day 4 was lovely though cool; I dug up the last of the potatoes, closed up the polytunnel and tidied the big garden.

Today was not so nice with a cold wind. It would have been enjoyable to do more of the indoor jobs I had planned, but instead I was stuck working all day (at my job!). Rather spoils the fun of taking an entire week off when it's interrupted right in the middle. :(

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


One full day plus a couple hours. That's how long my boss lasted before asking me to do some work during my vacation.

I think I need a raise.

Day 3

A good, productive day. I started off gleaning more ears of corn in the field, lots of bending, walking and carrying. At home I replaced the messed up ceiling tiles that I had to destroy to reach the old attic access. Before covering it up I stapled some leftover insulation across the access cover in case extra blown insulation didn't make it into the top of that area. This was one of those jobs that needs doing for months and makes a huge improvement in the appearance of that room; not to mention providing another layer of insulated space to conserve heat.

Finally, tired of watching X-Files (which do get a bit monotonous after awhile), I pulled up Voyager. My son doesn't really remember the show at all so he enjoyed watching too. Cute moment: I had the scarf I'm knitting rolled up on the desk in front of the monitor and Trigger decided it made a perfect cushion to lean on when sitting in my lap...yet another Star Trek loving member of this house.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 2

Quiet day, mostly spent chilling out. I did pick up a bag of corn from the empty field behind my parent's barn this morning. The combine misses quite a lot and if left would just be eaten by raccoons; I'd rather my chickens got first chance.

I just finished watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind thanks to Amazon's freebies. It started very slow... so much so that I almost gave up on it. In the end I'm glad I stuck until it picked up. Interesting.

Tomorrow the solar electrician will be back to figure out why one battery bank isn't charging.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 1

After the last couple months of very intense work, I get an entire week of vacation! It's wonderful. :)

Today, as the official first day off, I cleaned the garage. It was much too windy to work outside, yet warm enough that being in a sheltered place was comfortable.

I finished off the day watching First Wives Club and knitting on my scarf. A great day.

Sweet solar

Yesterday my solar system finally got hooked up and running. So, now my furnace, frig, and freezer are all running off batteries.

It's a bittersweet time though as my solar guy was diagnosed with lung cancer yesterday. While I am thrilled to have some degree of off-grid sustainability; I'm also deeply worried about the traumatic time he and his family are dealing with.